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TCS, C-DoT in Pole Position to Deploy BSNL 4G; can upgrade to 5G by 2022

CDoT, along with TCS, and Tejas Networks, will soon have the honor of deploying India's first indigenous 4G network in BSNL 4G.

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Hemant Kashyap
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The Center for Development of Telematics, C-DoT, along with TCS, and Tejas Networks, will soon have the honor of deploying India's first indigenous 4G network in BSNL 4G.

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Tata, C-DoT Pull Ahead in the Race to Deploy BSNL 4G

The triumvirate as emerged as leaders as rival consortiums have backed out from trials following technical failures.

An industry source said that except the said triplet, all the other consortiums have pulled out of field trials. They said that the consortiums failed to sort out the integration issues with partners supplying core technology. They also added that BSNL will forfeit their security deposit of Rs 5-crore each.

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Last July, BSNL had sent a letter of intent to five bidders who were eligible. These bidders were mandated to use Indian tech while deploying BSNL 4G. The bidders included the likes of L&T, Tech Mahindra, TCS and HFCL.

Right now, BSNL is facing an existential crisis, as it continues to churn customers and market share to private players. Because it has not been able to introduce 4G, the telco has lost much ground.

To their part, the Center has made a budgetary allocation of Rs 24,084 crore for 4G spectrum allocation in the financial year 2021-22 to BSNL and MTNL.

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A Historical 4G Deployment

Rajkumar Upadhyay, executive director and Board chairman, C-DoT told ETTelecom, "This (4G deployment) will be historical, and we are confident that with necessary support from the Department of Telecommunications in line with the Atmanirbhar vision, we will be able to not only fulfill BSNL's current needs but can compete worldwide with our proven technology".

Notably, C-DoT is already testing its core, with Tejas Networks' radio and other software components from TCS in Ambala and Chandigarh.

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Upadhyay also added the given the firm's network scalability, it has a clear roadmap to upgrade BSNL's network. He said that the companies will upgrade BSNL 4G to BSNL 5G NSA by 2022. And by 2023, the network will become standalone.

However, the telco had already mandated upgradability from 4G to 5G to the network suppliers.

BSNL Needs 4G More Than Ever Before

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This January, BSNL had released a detailed notice inviting e-tenders for planning, testing, deploying and maintaining its 4G network. It had invited tenders across 4 operational zones, along with Delhi and Mumbai circles, for 57,000 sites on a turnkey basis. It had also sought a PoC for Indian companies and consortiums to test their network quality.

BSNL's 4G network launch has been delayed by at least 5 years following a series of controversies involving homegrown vendors and multinational rivals. The telco had to scrap the NIT it released in March last year; the local telecom companies had alleged restrictive conditions back then.

BSNL has to launch 4G as soon as it can, as that is the only way it can stay competitive.

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